3 Ways to Land Your First Clients
By far, the number one question I’ve received since launching Cultivated Experiences is “How do you find clients???”
It’s a pretty important thing to figure out too for obvious reasons (no clients = no work = no money = no life), but you’ll find that there are actually many ways to find new clients.
I have narrowed it down though to the top three that helped me land my first clients.
It’s amazing to think back to the amount of passionate, profitable and creative projects I secured after just the first few months of launching Cultivated Experiences (#blessed), and I’m excited to share these ways with you so that you can do the same!!
This is not because I’m biased as an event planner, but because I truly believe that attending events within your industry, or wherever your ideal clients will be hanging out, is one of the best ways to expand your network and market yourself in an authentic way.
Whether it’s a pure networking reception, a conference, or a workshop, not only do events give you a platform to expand your knowledge, listen to an interesting speaker, or learn a few new skills, events also give you the perfect platform to personally connect with potential clients.
Because while cold outreaches can certainly work (as you’ll see below), face to face connections will work faster because they are more authentic, powerful and memorable.
Not to mention that most of the other attendees at these events are just like you – people looking to learn new skills and build new connections for their business. So it’s an easy way to relate and build a partnership while not seeming too desperate or salesey.
RESOURCES FOR FINDING LOCAL EVENTS
+ Apps such as Eventbrite, Quilt or Kitchen Table App
+ General Assembly or similar schools that offer free or low cost workshops for small businesses & entrepreneurs
+ Follow communities, co-working spaces & associations that your ideal clients would belong to – there are so many of these types of groups out there and most of them will have an upcoming events tab on their webpage, so check it out or follow them on social media to stay up to date
I swear this is not a sponsored ad – but I have had such great success with UpWork in particular that it absolutely deserves its own spot in the top three here.
The best way I can describe UpWork as is the ‘LinkedIn for Freelancers’.
With your own profile and a ‘jobs board’ of projects (mostly remote) that you can apply to, it’s an easy tool for finding diverse projects from clients all over the world.
Oh, and it’s FREE to sign up. UpWork will not take any money from you until you’ve earned money yourself (of that its 10% that they take).
For sure, it can be intimidating when you first start scrolling through as there are a ton of projects to search through – and yes, there are some low-paying and weird sounding projects out there.
But once you build up your profile, you can find some GOLD projects and amazing clients. With the popularity of UpWork growing, the amount of high-quality & well-paying projects from enterprise clients, start-ups and passionate entrepreneurs is also growing.
From graphic design, to content writing, marketing support, translations and my forte – event production, the types of projects you can find on this platform are so diverse, that no matter what your background or skills are, there’s something out there for you.
My favorite project I’ve found off UpWork so far has been planning an internal team outing for UpWork themselves. Talk about coming full-circle :)
UpWork is not the only freelancing website out there either, it’s honestly just the only one I’ve really invested my time in using so far – so here are some others that you can check out as well:
TIPS FOR USING UPWORK
+ Just start
Like NOW. It will not take you long to build your profile, and it’s free. Start today by signing up, and even if you’re too busy to take on any projects right now, you can start researching what type of work is available to help you figure out what kind of work you’re interested in doing. There are plenty of small, one time projects out there too, that will take you half a day or less to complete, and will help you build your experience up on the platform and start testing out the freelancer life.
+ Filter by country
As an American, I’ve had the most success while searching for “American Only” projects – these are clients that are only looking to work with people in the US only. While I LOVE projects with international clients, it does help to ensure the pay is on par with what I’m looking for.
+ Treat the application & interview process like any other job
Attaching your resume, including a link to your LinkedIn, following up with a thank-you note, and all of the other best practices that you would use when interviewing for a corporate position should be applied here. This will help you to stand out and look professional.
It sounds CRAZY right!? But seriously, I have secured a handful of amazing clients through emailing complete strangers that I wanted to work with.
Start by building a contact database of your dream clients - for me, the best outlets I use to find my potential clients is by searching through Instagram, and industry events. For example, one of my main target clienteles is creative entrepreneurs - so I looked up one of the largest conferences in this industry, and started reaching out to every speaker listed on the conference website. Out of 10 emails that I sent from this list, I gained 2 new clients. 1 of those clients wasn’t even the person I reached out to - she had forwarded my email to a friend, who become my client. CRAZY!
So do not be afraid of the cold outreach.
Here’s some ways in you can win someone over from a cold email:
+ Make the email personal!
This topic alone warrants it’s own post (coming soon) because it is so important.
We all receive hundreds of random sales emails a quarter - so how do you get someone to actually read yours? By speaking directly to them! This must be done in the first couple of sentences - you can start the email by mentioning something you admire about their business, something you have in common with them, or how you found their profile (you find this information by basically stalking them on the internet - and it pays off).
+ Tell them how you are different, and why they NEED your business
In the first outreach, and especially once you’ve secure a consultation call, make sure you are highlighting what makes you, your services and your working style unique from anyone else they’ve talked to, and even more important - why they need your services.
How are your services going to help them and growth their business? There has to be an ROI (return on investment) - ALWAYS!
+ Do not be afraid to follow-up
If you haven’t received a response after a couple weeks, do not be afraid to follow-up! It is not weird, it is not annoying, and in fact - most people will appreciate the reminder.